Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Music and the Making of Modern Science

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Music and the Making of Modern Science

Article excerpt

Textbook Details:

Music and the Making of Modern Science

Written by Peter Pesic

2014, 360 pages, Published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

ISBN 978-0-262-02727-4

Has music been shaped by and emerged from science or is it the other way around? In his book "Music and the Making of Modern Science," Peter Pesic argues that music has been instrumental in providing insightful avenues of solutions to several scientists as they were struggling to unfold mysteries throughout the course of history. Holding a doctorate in Physics from Stanford University, tutor and musician-in-residence at St. John's College, Santa Fe as well as author of several books published by the MIT Press, Pesic possesses a unique background in which physics, history, and music are singularly intermingled, thus highly qualifying him to write this book.

In a very knowledgeable and brilliant manner, he addresses an academic audience with several thoroughly explained evidences based on numerous references which show how music does not have a secondary place in the development of science, but rather a forefront, even a leading position in the advancement of science discoveries. While convinced that music preceded science, the author does not make it an absolute, but rather chose specific "cases in which music led the way" (Pesic, 2014, p. 5). Though this book does not cover a complete account of scientific discoveries initiated by music, the cases judiciously chosen by the author allow the reader to follow a central thread where the discoveries through music by savants and their unanswered questions are taken up by the next generation of researchers who are answering the questions and building upon the findings of their predecessors which bring to the surface new questions, and this cycle continues as they walk on the path of advancement.

Reviewed from a music teacher and music student perspective, we read this book pondering how its content could help such readers expand their understanding on the real impact of music as to the expansion of science and how music goes even beyond anything that seems related to music. It is our understanding that only university-level readers with an interest and sound knowledge in music theory, mathematics, and science who are questioning themselves on where today's music theories come from will really appreciate the depth of this book as its style is highly academic and scientific. We would even say that if any of these fields were to be missing in the reader's knowledge background, the one field that is absolutely compulsory to relish the underlying explanations of the correlation between music and science is a strong mastery of music theory.

The greatest attraction of this book for a music reader is to follow the author as he chronologically covers the discovery process, including struggles, hesitations, questions, assumptions, unsolved problems, experiments, opposition, and exaltation of varied scientists over the centuries, brilliantly demonstrating how music has been the inspiration, the source, the intrigue, and the motivation to test and experience mathematical hypotheses, to challenge ancient theories and to go beyond what was considered as absolutes. Starting from the Greek quadrivium educational system which included music, Pesic constantly provides solid contextual and interesting historical facts that help one grasps the omnipresence of music in the social and educational realms of these scientists, thus greatly influencing their mindset for discovery.

As just said, music was a bench work for researchers to test and experience mathematical and physics hypotheses, to challenge ancient views, and to advance innovative ideas. We can read in chapter 2 how music brought Oresme to subtly challenge the traditional geocentric view and how it guided him to think that the heliocentric view might be the right one, all this over the debate of an audible or inaudible earth. …

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